My understanding of topical pain relievers is that they distract you from the pain sensation with the hot/cool/tingly ones. The China Gel website claims that massaging it properly into the skin will help to stimulate circulation, initiate the pain relieving endorphin response, and eliminate lactic acid in muscle tissues. This allows the muscle to relax, thereby lessoning pain, discomfort, and enhancing healing by utilizing the body's natural methods of pain relief.
Hmmmmmm. Think the FDA might have a field day with that one (and I would know. I used to work with them back in my L'Oreal days). But, I'll take it. My bad back and I are here to tell you that it really works. And I think husband, who is a skeptic of all things such as this (and whose reaction to my recent cupping sessions has been, you're paying someone to bruise you?!) has been sneaking it to use on his post-major surgery knee.
China Gel is ubiquitous at Jivamukti London. Students bring along their tubs with their yoga mats, and rub it on their shoulders, neck, and low back before class. The teachers adjust and massage with it. Not kidding. Almost every day I get a China Gel quickie massage on my shoulders in tadasana, or on my low back in down dog. Just that is enough to keep me coming back every day. I plan to add this little gem to my teaching repertoire on retreats this summer. Namaaaaaaahhhhhste.